Every enrollment at the beginning of the semester paints vivid pictures of agony, each one different for every generation of UP students. But there are the staple issues like shortage in course offerings, long queues, and the usual discomforts in walking and commuting from building to building under the sun.

This second semester enrollment faced the students with these same old issues, but there are marked improvements in the process due to advances in technology like the online waitlist system and a wider range of payment options. This is also the third semester of implementation of Republic Act No. 10931 or Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Free Tuition Law).

Free tuition in UP Diliman

According to the Office of the University Registrar (OUR), 19,942 students have enrolled for the second semester as of 17 January 2019. Undergraduate students number to 12,176, while 7,766 are graduate and Juris Doctor (Law) students. On the one hand, 11,264 undergraduate students availed the Free Tuition Law, while 8,678 undergraduate, graduate, and Juris Doctor students were ineligible.

Enrollment for the second semester is 19.23% lower than the 24,690 recorded enrollment in the first semester. Out of the 14,168 undergraduate students who enrolled, 12,527 benefited from the Free Tuition Law, while an aggregate of 12,163 undergraduate, graduate, and Juris Doctor students were ineligible.

FREE TUITION? A 19.23% decrease in enrollees in the Diliman campus welcomed the second semester of AY 2018-2019. A total of 11,264 enjoyed free tuition this semester under Republic Act No. 10931. GRAPHICS: Vince Angelo Leonardo Cañete

Under the Free Tuition Law, all Filipino students in all State and local universities and colleges are eligible to avail of free tuition benefits as long as they are enrolled in a bachelor’s degree, certificate degree, o any comparable undergraduate degree, and that they are able to satisfy other admission and retention requirements of their universities.

On the other hand, there are various reasons why students become ineligible to avail of the law’s benefits: students who have already completed their bachelor degrees, those who failed to complete their bachelor degrees on time, and those who failed to comply with admission and retention policies are ineligible to avail of the free tuition benefit. In the case of UP Diliman, there are also students who have failed to comply with registration requirements.

There is also an opt-out option under the Free Tuition Law for students with financial capacity to pay for their education. Students may opt out of the free tuition mechanism for one semester, which they may continue for the following semester if they wish. But they can avail of the free tuition on the succeeding semesters if they meet the requirements under the law.
For the first semester this academic year, 14 students opted out of the free tuition mechanism and on top of that, nine students followed suit by the time the second semester came around.

The Philippine Collegian attempted to get the reaction of the University Student Council (USC) on any feedback regarding the enrollment and the implementation of the Free Tuition Law. USC Basic Student Services Committee Head Marian Joyce Dacquel, however, did not respond.

Horror stories from days of yore

The dreaded UP enrollment process has been a favorite topic of conversations among UP students, most especially those at the upper years. The latter has experienced the birth pangs of a developing technology, forcing them to fall in line for subjects the night before actual enlistment, or showing off their talents in front of a class to amuse the professor into giving them a slot during prerog (teacher’s prerogative).

“Every enlistment period, you have to pray to the gods of CRS that you’d be given a slot. And if not, you have to go early to line up and waitlist. It’s a good thing that a lot of departments now have the online waitlist so you don’t have to physically line up for the class, but the anxiety that you might not get the minimum number of units before the class starts is still there,” said a graduating student from the College of Science who refused to be named.

But whatever efficiency that advancement in technology brings to the enrollment process, UP’s system continues to be hounded by unsettled administrative issues.

According to Jacob Obinguar of the OUR-Academic Information System Section (AISS), the biggest issue that OUR encountered during the enrollment process was “students not following the schedule of registration.”

Pressed for more details, the OUR-AISS staff pointed at several factors that may cause a student to register late, like being labelled as on “Leave of Absence,” “Absent Without Leave,” or “Dropped.” These labels will tag a student in the Computerized Registration System, resulting to delays when the student fails to clear any of the these deficiencies within the given time.
UP, however, has had problems with deadlines that already lapsed even from previous years. There are still students from higher batches who return to OUR-AISS to settle their accountabilities from several years ago. “There is no such thing as ‘deadliest deadline’ here in UP,” said an OUR-AISS staff member.


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